All hail to Martha!! She always makes everything so pretty, and I am a huge sucker for high-maintenance presentation. With these little babies we fancified (dictionary status pending) them even more with some spun sugar as toppers.
This baking endeavour was a team effort over Christmas break at my house- Mom, Amanda, Myself, and Cabernet. Steph missed out on the fun by choosing to catch up with a friend as her always famous last words, “Its going to be an early night, I don’t feel like staying out late” followed her out the door. The recipe is out of Martha Stewarts Cupcakes Cookbook and they were a hit at the fam gathering. You can’t really go wrong with chocolate and caramel, and the salt makes it a little more modern and cuts the sweetness. The filling does take patience and attention though, so be prepared!
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup warm water
Sea salt (preferably fleur de sel) for garnish
Spun sugar for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line mini muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, add eggs, buttermilk, oil, extract, and the water; beat until smooth and combined.
Spoon the batter into liners about two-thirds full. Bake approximately 15 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Transfer tins to wire racks and allow to cool for 10 minutes; turn cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 1 month in air tight containers.
To finish, use a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece (about 1/2 inch deep) from the center of each cupcake and throw away the pieces. Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons warm Salted Caramel Filling into each hollowed-out cupcake. You will notice the caramel will sink into the cupcake a little, just fill it up a bit more. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over filling.
Use a pastry bag with a medium open-star tip (I used Wilton #1M) and pipe Dark Chocolate Frosting onto each cupcake, swirling tip and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Garnish each cupcake with a pinch of sea salt. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are filled and frosted. Store at room temperature in airtight containers – do NOT refrigerate. Enjoy!
Salted Caramel Filling
2 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, preferably fleur de sel
Heat sugar with the water and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over high, stirring occasionally, until syrup is clear; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan and stop stirring.
Cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed. Boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is caramelized and just reaches 360°F. Remove rom heat and slowly pour in cream; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in sea salt.
Use immediately; if caramel begins to harden reheat gently until pourable.
Dark Chocolate Frosting
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 pound best-quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
Combine cocoa and the boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combine and scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the cocoa mixture. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 5 days, or frozen up to 1 month in airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again.
-Katie and Amanda